Bandy retires at the top

Scott Bandy tracks down a brumby in front of a big crowd at last weekend’s Man from Snowy River event at Corryong. Photo: Jess Fleming photography
Scott Bandy tracks down a brumby in front of a big crowd at last weekend’s Man from Snowy River event at Corryong.
Photo: Jess Fleming photography

Scott Bandy’s name has been etched into the Corryong Man From Snowy River Challenge history book with the talented horseman claiming the title for a spectacular fifth time last Sunday.

Bandy won the esteemed event for the first time as a gung-ho 22-year-old, and the now 40-year-old has declared the 2014 title will be his last.

“Retiring had crossed my mind a little in the lead-up to the event but I really thought on Sunday morning maybe I would give it away if I won,” Bandy said.

“I planned to retire my horse, Knights Top That and after we won I figured it was as good as time as any to finish up as well.

“It has been emotional but it is pretty nice to go out on top.”

As one of the most successful and respected horsemen the district has seen in the modern rodeo and challenge era, Bandy has ridden some of the roughest and most cunning broncs to come out of chutes.

Sunday’s retirement from the challenge arena was in less spectacular fashion that when the big man hung up his rodeo chaps, with his last scheduled ride at the Tumut Rodeo in 2011 nearly costing Bandy his life when a falling bronc crushed him.

In true horseman style, Bandy recovered from the horrific fall with all the grit and determination one would expect from a great competitor.

Making the transition from bronc rider to stockman’s challenge competitor was an easy one for Bandy who rides each day in his property management position in Tooma.

Apart from wins in Corryong, Bandy also has several top ten finishes from the Man From Snowy River and King of the Ranges challenges under his belt along with a win at Gundagai’s Battle on the Bidgee as well.

In the open category of the challenge events, competitors participate in a gruelling multi-faceted contest where riders and horses are tested across six disciplines.

Winning the shoeing event on the weekend and scoring well in the stock handling, bareback obstacle, pack horse, and Clancy’s whipcrack events, Bandy secured himself a top 10 final position comfortably, taking second spot.

Bandy’s favourite event, the cross-country, was abandoned due to the dangerous slippery conditions with the rest of the normally demanding challenge events made even more difficult as the rain poured down in Corryong, creating a mud-filled arena and challenge area.

“The rain made things a bit more difficult as we were operating in a good couple of inches of water,” Bandy said. “The whip cracking section was hard as the whip became real heavy and you were cracking in mud. My cracker broke on the fifth target so it was tough going. In the pack horse event it was properly raining so everything was soaked and heavy.”

The top 10 riders squared off in two final events, the Brumby catch and stock saddle buckjump, to determine the champion, and Bandy was in good company with mates Brad Pierce, Brett Laney, Dan Lindley and Sam Webb all hoping to de-throne last year’s winner.

On board Terry Hillier’s 17-year-old stallion, Knights Top That, a horse that Bandy had already won three of his Man From Snowy River titles on, one final test for the steely chestnut remained. The Brumby catch.

With the all calmness and resolve he has become well known on the challenge circuit for, Bandy’s stead did not disappoint.

“He’s a great horse, with a top temperament,” Bandy said. “As a very athletic horse he will do whatever you ask of him, you can point him at anything and he will do it for you. He is right where I need him to be in the brumby catch.

“He will go back to Terry’s now for stud, he’ll be in for a good life.”

Bandy’s smooth Brumby catch edged him into top spot as he entered the final event, the buckjump. Not one to look at scores and anticipate the result, the seasoned cowboy said he was just concentrating on what he needed to get done and it wasn’t until he stuck the bronc for eight seconds that he thought he might in for a fifth title.

“I just go about my business when competing but after I got the bronc ridden, I was pretty sure it sealed the deal,” he said. “It is hard getting on a bronc now. I like doing the whole deal in challenges but don’t really want to get on broncs anymore and thinking like that is when you can get hurt.

“I guess that’s what has led to my decision to retire. The broncs are getting tougher and I’m getting older.”

The easy-going Bandy still pauses during the challenge events to share a bit of experienced inside knowledge to the younger riders and is looking forward to the day his children Georgia and Travis can follow in his footsteps and enter challenges.

The whole family ride, with his wife Tanya and the children joining Bandy during his training sessions in the lead-up to the various challenge events, and they all compete together on the campdraft circuit together as well.

“I did still want to be doing the challenges when Georgia started, but she’s got another three years to wait,” Bandy said. “My family and mum were in Corryong on the weekend along with a lot of the family, so they were all pretty excited to see me finish up this way.

“To win the fifth one was special, I thought I never would. When its time to finish you know. It is a top way to go out.”